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Talking Back: An Experiment in Consumer Engagement

Insights May 29, 2014

Today’s marketers have unparalleled access to the general consumer. Between social media channels and email marketing, even Don Draper would be green with envy over the endless avenues companies possess today to reach their target audiences. Now more than ever, there is real opportunity for brands to connect with potential customers.

This access can be a double-edged sword, as people are more adept at making well-researched decisions on which brand they choose to purchase from. Before even clicking onto a website (or stepping foot in a store), the buyer has an arsenal of information about a brand and its product at their disposal. Consumers are more educated and connected than ever, leading to smarter purchasing decisions.

I will show you some examples of real brands mastering the art of interactive media, and others that leave something to be desired.

In mid-March, I heard this Corona commercial and was immediately entranced by the song. In an attempt to figure out the song playing, I quickly opened the Shazam app on my iPhone, only to receive the disappointing “we couldn’t find a match” message. Refusing to admit defeat, I decided to go to Corona’s website to personally contact them in search of this elusive tune. Below is our exchange:

Hey Corona,

First of all, I love your marketing efforts. From the bottle, to the branding, to the messaging, you certainly have it figured out. This all leads me to my question about one of your most recent ads, “Shoes.”

What is the name of the song playing during this ad? I absolutely love it, but can’t seem to find it anywhere on the internet. Please, please, I implore you to share this song with me. Thank you! 


Hi John,

Thank you for the email. We are actually in the process of recording a full length version of the song featured in the Corona commercial “Shoes”. Hopefully, we will have a link where you can download it within a few weeks.

Thank you!



We now have the full length track from our Corona commercial “Shoes” available for download at the link below. Enjoy!



If there was ever an example of exemplary customer service, this was it. Not only did a representative from Corona take the time to respond to my initial message, they also even followed up and shared with me the full-length track once it was complete. In a world where 92% of consumers say they trust recommendations from family and friends above all other forms of advertising, Corona had just built a brand advocate in me. All it took was one email for them to understand and empathize with me, a potential consumer.

Seeing Corona’s exemplary customer service inspired me to create a social experiment where I contacted numerous brands in an effort to gauge how many are engaging with their customers and striving to build brand advocates, and how many seem to be less concerned with reaching the individual vs. the general public. Since brands are overwhelmed with social inquiries on Facebook and Twitter (whilst responding to roughly 30% of them), I chose the route of email to contact these various companies.

Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies:

While this message may strike you out of the ordinary, I felt it necessary to contact Kellogg’s with regard to my favorite cookies in the world, Keebler Fudge Stripes. These cookies have been a staple of my upbringing, and will always be a part of my kitchen. I just wanted to say great job! And thank you for providing me with such happiness by way of your delicious chocolaty shortbread goodness.



Thank you for your comments about Keebler® Fudge Stripes™ Original cookies. It was good of you to take the time to let us know how you feel. Your compliment brightened the day!

We appreciate your insight. Feedback from our consumers helps us to do our best every day, and it is good to know your thoughts. We hope that our products will continue to meet your needs for many years to come.

We are including an electronic coupon for you to print and use. Please make sure your printer is on and click on the link to print your coupon. You may have to copy and paste the link into your web browser in order for it to work.


Again, another wonderful example of a brand taking the time to respond to a customer. 61% of consumers take their business to a competitor once they have chosen to end a relationship, and with new competition popping up every day across every industry, it’s increasingly important to do the little things to make the customer happy. Paying attention to what the customer wants and addressing their feedback are low-cost, easy ways to build this loyalty and increase retention.


Pretty much, there isn’t a better candy in the world than yours. The delectable blend of chocolate and peanut butter is otherworldly, and after 24 years of nonstop enjoyment with your product, I felt compelled to share my feelings with you.  Personally, I go back and forth debating whether I prefer my Reese’s cups frozen or just as they come. If I had to choose, I suppose I’d say fresh out of the package.

Anyway, this message was to tell you thank you for being keen enough to realize there is nothing better than a chocolate cup filled with peanut butter.


Hi John,

Thank you for telling us how much you love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter that makes up our REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup Candy and for sharing the different ways you like to enjoy them. We always appreciate receiving compliments from such long time happy consumers!

You see, at The Hershey Company, we work tirelessly to bring you the quality products you have come to love and expect from us, and we are thrilled to hear we continue to meet and exceed your expectations! We find feedback like yours to be very helpful when making decisions about our product line, so you can be certain that we will share your comments with our Marketing Department.

If you have not visited, we encourage you to come check us out! Here, you can find information about our current promotions, coupons, seasonal recipes, and decorating ideas.

Thanks again, John, for the very kind words and for your loyalty as a consumer.

We hope you have a sweet day!


Making sure your customers are happy is an easy way to ensure they remain loyal. In this instance, I am clearly a firm believer in the product, but there are still lessons to be learned. It is far more profitable to keep current customers than it is to try to obtain new ones. Further, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%; with new customers, this probability of selling drops to 5-20%.

Wet Ones:

I want to preface what is to come by stating that I love your brand.  When it comes to cleanliness, Wet Ones reigns supreme–and no one matches the combination of dexterity and coziness that you provide.This message is to tell you thank you for being one of the only companies who offer a single/travel pack version of your antibacterial hand wipes. As someone who constantly needs to have his hands clean, the singles & travel packs have changed my life.


Hi Jack,

Thank you for taking the time to email us about our Wet Ones Antibacterial Wipes.

Your input is so important to us and your satisfaction with the product helps us to continue to bring you products that meet your needs and fit your lifestyle. In appreciation for your loyalty, we are sending you a coupon via US mail that we hope you will use toward the future purchase of any of the products in our line. Please allow 7 to 10 business days for this to arrive.

It was great to receive your email.



Wet Ones chose to engage with me in responding to my message about their cleaning products. Today, 50% of consumers give a brand a week to respond to an inquiry before they choose to end their ties with the company. In going above and beyond (yes, Wet Ones did indeed send this coupon in the mail), Wet Ones showed a commitment to preserving their customers that others should take note of. Consumers like to feel appreciated and recognized, and answering when they contact you is an easy way to accomplish this.


Hey Kleenex,

I wanted to ask if you had plans to develop a moist towelette?  I know you have the Splash ‘N Go!’s, but these are cumbersome to take on the go (unless you carry a giant purse). Moist towelettes are easy to carry, exquisite for cleaning your hands, and, in my opinion, would be a game changer for Kleenex.  Any insight you can provide me would be much obliged.

Kleenex did not respond to my inquiry regarding a potential new product. While it may seem easier for brands to simply ignore negative feedback, research shows that the opportunity is there to turn this negativity into a positive. According to Bazaarvoice, 7 in 10 survey respondents stated that a brand’s response to a customer’s review shapes the way they view the brand. Addressing feedback, even negative, provides a sense of believability in the brand, and improves a consumer’s trust in them. Further, the presence of negative reviews legitimizes the positive ones.

Engaging customers through the numerous avenues available to brands today are inexpensive, efficient, and easy ways to improve retention and further build brand loyalty. Choosing to acknowledge feedback, even when poor, will boost the trust and credibility a brand holds with consumers as well. Being attentive to all of this, and heeding the examples above, will vastly improve your relationships with consumers.

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